a community art project
They say a picture is worth a thousand words…show the world what you see and be the voice for those who can’t speak.
Building on DiverseWorks’ long history of social activism through art, Barrio Dogs, Box 13, and DiverseWorks have teamed up to present No One’s Dog, a community-based project that uses art to bring attention to Houston’s animal overpopulation crisis. The project involves a photography exhibition at DiverseWorks (July 26 – August 9, 2014), a community awareness event at Box 13 ArtSpace (August 9, 5 – 7 pm), and a commissioned coloring book created by Houston-based artist Michael Bise. The coloring book tells the story of Rusty the dog (in English and Spanish), one of Barrio Dogs greatest success stories, and will be distributed free of charge.
There are more than one million homeless animals living in Houston, most of which reside in the city’s most impoverished communities. According to the 2010 Health of Houston Survey, stray animals are the number one neighborhood problem in Houston, ahead of crime and public services. Among the areas most affected are the poorest, where it is common to see injured, sick, pregnant, and nursing dogs—oftentimes in packs—roaming the streets and living in parks, alleys, vacant lots, and empty buildings. Sadly, dead dogs are ubiquitous, found alongside busy roads, in ditches, and even in dumpsters—the victims of cars, disease, starvation, or violence.
Social documentary photography has been a powerful force for change – from Jacob Riis’ late 19th century photographs of New York City slums, to the Great Depression-era work of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and the numerous other Farm Security Administration photographers who documented the plight of the rural poor. More recently, DiverseWorks has a long history of presenting activist work, including Richard Lewis’ Mothers of the Disappeared (1989), Stories about Us: Photographs from Juárez (1998), and Ben DeSoto’s Understanding Poverty (2008). What makes No One’s Dog different though, is the fact that the photographers are not professional artists, but members of the public who live in the neighborhoods they are documenting.
Spay/neuter programs and education are the only ways to solve Houston’s animal overpopulation crisis, and the goal of No One’s Dog is to educate through art. This is a citywide problem, and we hope increased visibility will lead to positive change in the lives of residents AND animals alike.
THE COLORING BOOK
DiverseWorks engaged artist Michael Bise to tell the story of Rusty – a stray found in a cemetery who has found his forever home with a Barrio Dogs volunteer. Rusty is now a certified Youth and Paws dog that visits area schools and community centers to teach children about proper pet care and the importance of fixing their pets. The coloring book will be distributed for free at DiverseWorks and Box 13, and will also be used in the Barrio Dogs’ Youth and Paws program.
Michael Bise received his BFA from the University of North Texas and his MFA from the University of Houston. He has had solo shows at Moody Gallery (Houston), McKinney Avenue Contemporary (Dallas), Fort Worth Contemporary Arts at Texas Christian University, and Small A Projects (Portland, OR). His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including Parallel Myths, David Shelton Gallery (Houston), The State of Drawing, The Gallery at the University of Texas at Arlington; The Drawing Room, Galveston Arts Center; Fathom, Texas State University (San Marcos), and Perspectives 152: Four Artists, Four Stories, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. Bise’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Piggozi Collection (New York, NY).